tree of life
tree of life

tree of life

The other day, a young friend was helping me pick out some photos to frame for my first gallery showing. As we flipped through the dozens that reside on my computer, he stopped me at the photo above and noted how much he liked it. I nodded, noting that it had been one of my favorites for some time after I took the picture.

This photo has haunted me for the last couple of weeks. It shows up unexpectedly in searches or nudges its way into photo sets that I’d forgotten existed.

So this morning, I spent some time holding sacred space with this photo and remembering why it meant so much to me.

That summer, I was at my first residency for my spiritual guidance program at Shalem and was struggling that summer both emotionally and spiritually. I took a lot of walks around campus during those two weeks, including down this old asphalt trail that lead into woods filled with thorny brambles, playful foxes, and sweet honeysuckle.

When I came across this little tree in the road, I didn’t just stoop down to take a photo. I lay down on my stomach and sat face-to-face with that tree for quite some time. In that moment, it could not have been a better metaphor for my life.

I knew that somewhere in the middle of this deserted wilderness that was my spirit that there was hope to be found. Depression can do that to you–make you believe that you are empty and struggling even when life seems so full and rich.

I thought about that little tree and the seed it was–grasping for moisture and light as it settled down into that crack in the path. Finding just enough sustenance and soil to sprout then stretch then bloom.

That tree reminded me that life had taken root even when I thought conditions seemed so unfavorable. And after sustenance, whether it was rest, compassion, or support, purpose would grow again, and a new season would begin.

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